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NOTSO HOTSO by Anne Fine


by Anne Fine & illustrated by Tony Ross

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: March 7th, 2006
ISBN: 0-374-35550-9
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A self-described fastidious mutt deals with mange in this chapter book from Fine. Anthony isn’t sure what’s worse, the itching or the indignity, but he is certain that he’s unhappy. His humans are volubly grossed out, his doggie companions all sneer cattily and the “great snoring slug-colored heap on next-door’s wall” (the cat next door) calls him a “bare rug.” Things start to look up when his owner takes him to the vet, but—horror of horrors—he is shaved. It is Anthony’s stream-of-consciousness narration that makes this tale stand out, as nothing much really happens. His mood and tone shifts with mercurial dogginess with every turn of events, umbrage ratcheting ever higher with each new insult. Unfortunately, Anthony isn’t a particularly likable character, and although it’s funny at first, his relentlessly superior attitude wears thin on both characters and readers. The resolution, such as it is—he literally frightens an aged dog to death with a shaving-inspired lion act—doesn’t so much climax as peter out. Ross’s cartoons go a long way toward lightening the tone, but in the end they can’t save Anthony from himself. (Fiction. 7-10)